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Sep
25

The Origin of Our Convictions: 1. On Standing Firm

You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live.

~ Ephesians 2:2 the message

 

Memories drift like afternoon dreams stealing a bit of the present with a beauty and gentle force all their own. October days and the sun is warm and flannel shirts shield cool breezes. Sawdust swirls and lands in piles upon the old building’s floor and the smell of oak boards just cut and stacked high lend a sweetness to the day. My Labrador, Buck, lies at my feet watching leaves fall and my twelve year old self lingers in the doorway, leaning against the post, drinking a coke, soaking up warmth and wisdom. Daddy and I, we are having this conversation about making decisions and suffering consequences – not because I have done anything wrong, but because he is working and I am hanging around watching and we are just talking. It is one of those conversations that imparts a lingering thought, a lasting wisdom that molds and shapes and matures. And on that autumn afternoon with the sunlight streaming warm and bright he says this: “Know where you stand on an issue, draw a line, don’t cross it. Never move it for anyone because if you don’t create a solid foundation of what you believe, you will be swayed by every idea that comes along.” The point is not to teach me intolerance or close mindedness. And it certainly is not with maturity and wisdom and life experience my opinions would remain unaltered. His point is to be wise, discerning, to think for myself; it is to never allow a change in my circumstances to create fear that will control me or allow friends the power to pressure and cause conform. It is very simply to be bold enough to live what I believe and wise enough to know when I need to reevaluate my views. There is a fine line that divides the two and he feels it is important for me to understand these things so I recognize it.

And as it often happens when wisdom is passed along, the opportunity to put it to use presents itself.

Three years later I learn about abortion. I am horrified at the blatant disregard of human life. I am determined, no matter what, to never have an abortion. It is a line I am never prepared to cross, even when faced with a surprise  pregnancy and a deserter boyfriend many years later.

When I am seventeen, I stop buying Nike and Reebok. In the midst of a project in my economics class, I stumble upon an article about sweatshops and child labor and the callous responses from the executives of these companies are repulsive to me. They attempt to excuse their reprehensible behavior by babbling about the collapse of third world country economies and starving children if it were not for their presence supplying jobs. They say these things to sway the world’s outcry all while they live a life of luxury. Children are losing limbs, dying even; they travel the world in private jets making more money than they can possibly ever spend. Their audaciousness fuels a passion that burns deep within me, molding my decisions with a rippling effect unimagined. My passion earns my project an A; my lack of purchases do nothing to rising profits.

A few years ago, when I learn about the atrocities Planned Parenthood participates in, I stop buying from companies who support them. There was a time I went to Starbucks every morning before work, but no more. Years have passed since I purchased anything from them. And when I see people railing against abortion while they sip their $5 coffee from their Starbucks cup, I have to wonder how passionate they really are about what they believe.

Because in the fading daylight that afternoon, Daddy made one final point and it grabbed hold of me and never let go:  “You are only as good as your word. Someone who lies or fails to keep a promise or fails to follow through on their own personal convictions, is a person who cannot be trusted.”

I am not naïve; not buying products might not make a difference to such large corporations, but ultimately, it is not about their profits. It is about my character and how Yahweh can use it to influence others. It is about my accountability to Yahweh. For me personally, I cannot spend money on products that contribute to circumstances I view as ethically corrupt. It shapes the reasoning from whom I choose to purchase products. And always, the decision holds firm: I do not knowingly contribute, monetarily or otherwise, to things which harm others. Taking a stand for something that so profoundly affects me, causes a refinement of my character. Refinement always begins with truth.

Because once you have knowledge of the truth, to deny it or fail to act upon it is a character defect. One that must be corrected.

What births in us this visceral response to plant our feet unmovable in our certainty?

For some it is the arrogant certainty their opinion is right and everyone else’s is wrong. For others, it is birthed from a place of passion aimed at injustice or of spiritual conviction.

At the time of our creation, Yahweh plants in us the seeds of His character. For believer and unbeliever alike, those seeds lie dormant. They desire to sprout, to produce fruit, and to influence the world by reflecting His love, mercy, and justice. Often times the secular world invades our walk with Yeshua. It presents us with an idea, a problem, a desire to take action. It is then we must stop and ask ourselves an important question: Do our choices align with Yahweh’s character?

It is imperative they do.

Every thought, every feeling, every conviction does not come from Yahweh.

The world is filled with people who commit horrific acts and who all feel they are right and justified.  Look at the hate spewed by Westboro Baptist Church – at their core they believe they are right. History is littered with others. Do you think Hitler ever really believed he was at fault? Yet, none of their actions align with Yahweh’s character. And that makes their actions wrong.

So as I linger in sweet memories remembering conversations, if there is one thing I might add to the wisdom Daddy imparted that day…

Stand solely on Yahweh’s word. He is unchanging and His word does not lie and therefore He is eternally trustworthy in all things. Because regardless of the myriad interpretations of scripture, we can all agree on Yahweh’s character and above all His attributes, He is love. And if my decisions and resulting actions are rooted in love, if my convictions align with His word, I know my stance is planted on a solid foundation and it is there I can faithfully and firmly stand.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ~ Romans 12:2

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